Fri, Sep 19, 2014 ●
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Playoff action fast and furious

Sports

Playoff action fast and furious

(Ed. Note: For the complete South Portland-Portland baseball, Cape Elizabeth-Yarmouth and South Portland-Gorham boys' lacrosse and Cape Elizabeth-Yarmouth girls' lacrosse game stories, with additional photos and box scores, please visit theforecaster.net)

The regular season is behind us and the two-week dash to the championship finish line is underway.

While outdoor track got the jump crowning champions Saturday (please see story), baseball, softball, lacrosse and tennis are in the process of whittling down to the select few and to no one's surprise, local teams are heavily involved in the process.

Here's a look at what's occurred and what's to come with the finish line very much in sight.

Tennis

Cape Elizabeth's Matt Gilman, the No. 4 seed, made it to the "final four" of the boys' singles tennis championships, but could advance no further, losing, 2-6, 2-6, to eventual champion Jordan Friedland of Lincoln Academy.

Gilman and his teammates won a regional championship Wednesday and will play for a state crown Saturday. The Capers, ranked second in the Western B Heals after a 12-0 regular season, blanked No. 7 Spruce Mountain and two-time defending state champion Falmouth, the No. 3 seed, 5-0, in the quarterfinals and semifinals respectively, before eliminating No. 8 York, 5-0, in the regional final in Lewiston. Saturday, at the University of Maine in Orono, Cape Elizabeth will square off against Mt. Desert Island (14-0) or Caribou (13-1) as it seeks to become state champ for the 14th time.

Scarborough's boys, seeded eighth, beat No. 9 Cheverus, 4-1, in the preliminary round, but lost, 5-0, to top-ranked, defending champion Gorham in the quarterfinals to finish 8-6.

Scarborough's girls also made it to the regional final. The Red Storm, ranked second after an 11-1 season, ousted No. 7 Sanford (5-0) and No. 3 Windham (5-0) to set up a showdown with undefeated and top-ranked Portland, the lone team to beat Scarborough (3-2) in the regular season. If victorious, Scarborough would meet defending champion Brunswick (15-0) in the state match Saturday in Orono.

Cape Elizabeth's girls, the No. 2 seed, ousted No. 10 Freeport in the quarterfinals (4-1), then blanked No. 3 Greely (5-0) in the semifinals. The fun ended in Wednesday's regional final, however, with a 5-0 loss to five-time defending state champion Falmouth, which ended the Capers' year at 12-3.

Baseball

All three local baseball teams made the playoffs, but just two remained at press time.

Leading the way is top-ranked Scarborough, the defending regional champion, which went 14-2 to earn the No. 1 seed in Western Class A. The Red Storm welcomed No. 8 Portland (9-8) for a quarterfinal Thursday. Scarborough was a 9-2 winner at the Bulldogs May 16. Portland won the lone prior playoff meeting, 5-4, in nine innings, in the 2008 preliminary round. If the Red Storm advanced, they would host either No. 4 Westbrook (13-3) or No. 5 Cheverus (10-6) in Saturday's semifinal round. Scarborough beat the host Blue Blazes, 7-0, back on April and lost to the Stags in a game played at The Ballpark in Old Orchard Beach May 23, 5-0.

South Portland earned the No. 9 seed after a 6-10 regular season, which was capped by a 9-6 home win over Cheverus last Thursday (Jon Vickers had three hits and scored twice and Adam Helmke drove in the go-ahead run). The Red Riots went to No. 8 Portland for a preliminary round playoff game Tuesday, but were doomed by the Bulldogs scoring eight times in the third inning. South Portland couldn't solve Portland pitcher Nate Smart and its season ended at 6-11 with an 8-0 setback.

"We hoped for a little more this year," Red Riots coach Mike Owens said. "I thought it would be a struggle early and that we'd get better as the season went on. We didn't hit as well as I hoped in a stretch which hurt our record, but we were in every game. We need to get a little bigger and a little stronger. We are pretty young. We have three seniors who played a key role, but we have a lot of guys who got valuable experience this year. We expect big things in the future."

In Western B, Cape Elizabeth overcame early season turmoil to finish 10-6, good for the No. 6 spot. The Capers closed the regular season with a 6-4 home win over rival Greely, the only loss of the regular season for the Rangers. Chad Peterson had a key two-run double. Cape Elizabeth hosted No. 11 Oak Hill in the preliminary round Tuesday, but was done in by an uncharacteristic seven errors and fell, 16-0, in five innings, to wind up 10-7.

Greater Portland Christian School finished 0-8 and did not qualify for the Western D playoffs.

Looking ahead, the regional finals are Tuesday and Wednesday of next week and the state games are Saturday, June 15.

Softball

Scarborough's softball team earned yet another top seed in Western A after a 15-1 regular season. The Red Storm closed with a 9-1 home win over Westbrook (Marisa O'Toole had four hits and four RBI and Alyssa Williamson threw a three-hitter while striking out 10 to earn the victory). Scarborough hosted No. 9 Marshwood (9-7-1) in Thursday's quarterfinals. The Red Storm beat the Hawks, 11-2, at Marshwood, May 17. If Scarborough was victorious in that game, it will host No. 4 Thornton Academy (12-4) or No. 5 Noble (12-4) in the semifinals Saturday. The Red Storm edged the visiting Golden Trojans, 8-6, May 1 and won, 8-1, at Noble two days later.

Defending regional champion South Portland is once again right there with Scarborough. The Red Riots finished second in the region at 14-2 after closing on an 11-game win streak. South Portland hosted No. 7 Biddeford (10-6) Thursday in the quarterfinals (the Red Riots beat the visiting Tigers, 4-1, May 21). If victorious, South Portland will welcome No. 3 Sanford (11-5) or No. 6 Bonny Eagle (11-5-1) in Saturday's semifinals. The Red Riots' last loss came at the Spartans, 8-1, April 29. South Portland won at the Scots, 12-0, in five innings, in the opener, April 20.

In Western B, Cape Elizabeth posted a 15-1 record (tying the 2003, 2008 and 2009 teams for best in program history) after closing with a 5-0 home win over Greely (Katie Rabasca threw a one-hitter and Ashley Tinsman homered). The second-ranked Capers welcomed No. 10 Poland (11-6) in the quarterfinals Thursday. Cape Elizabeth beat the visiting Knights, 3-0, May 28. If the Capers advanced to Saturday's semifinals, they would host either No. 3 Oak Hill (12-3) or No. 6 Gray-New Gloucester (12-5). Cape Elizabeth doesn't play Oak Hill in the regular season. The Capers downed the host Patriots, 14-2, April 26.

Looking ahead, the regional finals are Tuesday and Wednesday of next week and the state games are Saturday, June 15.

Boys' lacrosse

All three local boys' lacrosse teams entered the playoffs with legitimate title hopes.

Three-time reigning champion Scarborough wound up first in Western A again after a superb 11-1 regular season. The Red Storm hosts No. 5 Marshwood (8-5), a team it beat, 12-5, at Marshwood May 22, in Saturday's semifinal round.

South Portland went 10-2, matching a program-best mark, to earn the No. 2 seed. The Red Riots closed with a 21-3 romp at Biddeford (Thomas Leddy had nine goals). South Portland welcomed No. 7 Gorham for a quarterfinal Tuesday night. The Red Riots won the regular season meeting, 12-7, at home. The teams had no playoff history. South Portland only led 4-2 at halftime, but Leddy and his teammates erupted in the second half. Leddy scored six times and the Red Riots went on to a 12-6 victory.

"We've always been about business and playing 48 minutes, not worrying about the hype," Leddy said. "We don't have anything to prove to anybody. We've proven ourselves to each other."

"We worked hard," said senior defenseman Cody Munson. "Our man-down was very good tonight. We're a close-knit group on defense. We know we have each other's backs. We may not have the prettiest man-down, but it works well."

"We're not used to (the attention), but I don't think the kids really care," coach Tom Fiorini added. "The last time we went 10-2, we were 8-0, then finished 2-3. Now we have an eight-game run. I like this better. "

South Portland will host either No. 3 Kennebunk (9-3) or No. 6 Thornton Academy (6-6) in Saturday's semifinal round. The Red Riots beat the Rams for the first time in program history, 8-7, on Leddy's goal in the second overtime, May 22, and handled visiting Thornton Academy, 10-7, May 8.

"The only team that wins it goes 4-0 (in the playoffs)," Fiorini said. "Everyone else goes home. We have three more to go. Hopefully. The guys are not satisfied. They have an end game and this ain't it. We're not even close yet."

In Western B, Cape Elizabeth earned the top seed for the first time since 2009 after closing with an emphatic 13-7 win at Yarmouth last Thursday to finish 10-2. Alex Bornick had four goals, Tom Feenstra three and senior defensive standout Adam Haversat had game-high eight ground balls and scored his first goal of the season.

"I wanted that goal," Haversat said. "It's senior year. I ran into the box, let it rip. When I saw it go in, I was excited."

"We played pretty well," Capers coach Ben Raymond said. "Defensively, we played really well. Offensively, we moved the ball and more importantly, moved without the ball well. We had more assists tonight than we've had in other games. We feel pretty good about going 10-2. Obviously, we'd like to be 12-0. I think the kids feel like they should be 12-0."

Cape Elizabeth welcomed either No. 4 Waynflete (6-6) or No. 5 Wells (9-3) in Saturday's semifinals. The Capers beat the visiting Flyers, 16-9, May 1. They didn't play the Warriors in the regular season.

Looking ahead, the regional finals are Wednesday, with games to be played on the field of the highest remaining seeds. The state games are Saturday, June 15, at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

Girls' lacrosse

Scarborough's girls' lacrosse team once again earned the top seed for the Western A playoffs after an 8-4 regular season, closing with a 14-4 victory at Windham (Maiti Kent scored four times). The Red Storm welcomed No. 8 Bonny Eagle (6-6) for a quarterfinal Wednesday. Scarborough handled the host Scots, 12-3, April 25. If victorious, the Red Storm will welcome either No. 4 Kennebunk (7-5) or No. 5 Thornton Academy (8-4) Saturday in the semifinals. Scarborough beat the visiting Rams, 13-8, and the visiting Golden Trojans, 8-7, during the regular year.

South Portland wound up seventh at 7-5 after closing with a 10-8 overtime loss at Bonny Eagle. Shae O'Brien had four goals in the defeat. The Red Riots were at No. 2 Massabesic (9-3) for the quarterfinals Wednesday. The teams didn't play this year. If South Portland sprung the upset, it would go to third-ranked Marshwood (10-3) for the semifinals Saturday. The teams didn't play this year.

In Western B, Cape Elizabeth finished second at 9-3 after closing with a wild 14-12 win at Yarmouth, which avenged a loss from earlier in the season. Lauren Steidl scored seven times.

"It was a great way to close the regular season," said the Princeton University-bound Steidl. "We were fired up for this one. We knew it would be up and down and we were up for the challenge."

"I thought it was a good regular season for us," coach Jeff Perkins said. "Certain teams we matched up better than we did against others. There's a lot of great teams out there. It's great to see how many good teams are out there. The parity is phenomenal."

The Capers welcome dangerous No. 3 Greely (9-3) for a semifinal Saturday. Cape Elizabeth won the regular season meeting, 14-9, at home, May 17.

Looking ahead, the regional finals are Wednesday, with games to be played on the field of the highest remaining seeds. The state games are Saturday, June 15, at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.